During AgriTalk’s farmer forum on Wednesday, farmers from Eastern Nebraska and northeastern Iowa shared their planting timelines with host Chip Flory. For Nebraska farmer Greg Anderson, planting is months away. In Iowa, Bob Hemasath says it’s just around the corner.
“It’s been a rough 30 to 45 days and really a rough winter over eastern South Dakota,” Anderson said. “It really started as you look back last fall. We had a lot of precipitation, late harvest, people were really mudding things out to finish up.”
He said the weather from December 1 through January brought 200 to 400% more rainfall than what is normal for that time. Then a blistering cold front settled in from mid-January to mid-March. “Where I live, it only reached 32 degrees for a high 10 times,” he said.
During that period, the lack of snow cover caused the soil to freeze at record depths, Anderson said. Then in mid-February, numerous snow events dumped 20 to 30 inches of snow. When March 13 arrived, so did a front of warm air, which when combined with the cold air, dropped barometric pressure to 50-year lows causing what is now known as the Bomb-cyclone.
“So you have this this gradient coming with a slow pace spinning and given the frozen soil and the rapid snow melt, and heavier rain that's falling on this snow, it's like getting a 6-inch rainfall with zero infiltration,” he explained.
Farmers in his area like to be planting by the end of April, according to Anderson. That’s not likely to happen this year.
“We're still having rain today. Rain tonight, rain tomorrow, rain forecast for the next five days and then maybe a break next week,” he said. “But these soil temperatures are extremely cold, there's nothing moving.”
Once fields are dry enough to get in, the fields will need to be cleared of debris, branches, corn stalks, and hay bales where the flooded areas are.
“There's still a lot of work water standing. I'm looking at a lot of prevent plant acres in Nebraska,” he said. “Then you have the heavy work that needs to be done on fields once it does dry off to get the debris off. I'm gonna have to move top soil, move sandbars, and fix holes and gullies.”
In Northeast Iowa, Hemasath said there’s still snow in tree lines, fence lines and road ditches, but given cooperative weather, planting will be just around the corner.
“We're hoping maybe if the weather cooperates the end of next week, we can get into fields,” he said. “We had a real wet fall and a lot of snow this winter, but I'll be honest I don't see a lot of water around and tile lines are slowing down. So, if we get the right weather conditions, I think things could turn pretty fast.”